Dystopiacore gym routines have gen Z working out like apocalyptic main characters

By Monica Athnasious

Published Mar 27, 2022 at 09:30 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

While the ever-elusive UK sun may have revived our souls for the past week—a gaslighting moment where I question if seasonal depression is even real—the fear of the world ending is as present as ever. But for gen Z, among the swelling rates of anxiety and depression as a result of such global issues, comes an irreplaceable insurgent humour that leans into that whole end-of-the-world ‘vibe’. Manifesting first as a fashion aesthetic, dystopiacore has, in my opinion, since morphed from its infamous grunge-inspired garms into a Wattpad-esque desire to fall into your dystopian backdrop of choice at your local gym and workout like your favourite teen hero. Hold on, I’ll explain.

Gen Z’s obsession with everything Y2K is no longer particularly noteworthy, it is quite plainly obvious to see—it has been a period that has revived the elements of our childhood we so clearly miss. And now, it seems us older gen Zers seem to be reliving our teenage-hood. The romanticisation and aestheticisation of the 2010s, think Tumblr girl era, has been clawing its way back into relevancy in 2022. However, a fundamental ingredient of that time quietly resurfacing—perhaps masked by Effy Stonem’s cigarette smoke and drowned out by the indie melodies of The Arctic Monkeys—is the young adult (YA) dystopian universe.

The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner series paved an era of cinema like no other. It provided a strange sort of escapism into an alternate apocalyptic future reality for humanity that appealed to the teen masses—myself included. But what was it about such dangerous possibilities that birthed fanfiction desires to be in them too—to model yourself after Katniss, Tris or Thomas?  Perhaps their resurgence is reflective of a real rage mounting against the oppressive forces found in the establishment, an internal frustration that has manifested into the idolisation of fictional revolution.

One I guess you’d need to be fit for… Hence this introduction to the dystopiacore workout.

The dystopiacore workout

In an article exploring the emergence of fashion’s dystopiacore, SCREENSHOT writer Francesca Johnson aptly illustrated the style: “Decked out in long black jackets, versatile trench coats and massive combat boots, gen Z are ditching stretchy waistbands and comfy loungewear […] joggers are out and cargos are in, people.” But now, it looks like gym wear is back in, as cargos are replaced with Lululemon leggings for the dystopia training you hopefully may never need.

At times coupled with ‘the feminine urge’ trend, users are utilising the soundtracks of their favourite dystopian movies into a motivational daydream as part of the universe. Most commonly, you’ll find the vibrant, fast-paced track of Divergent used to propel the gym-goer into the faction of Dauntless—one of the five groups in which the imaginary population is divided. Dauntless’ distinct, wild and challenging military-like training procedure—skills that become invaluable to heroine Tris as she navigates combat against the powers at be—seem to provide the perfect push for more reps, complete with Four as your imaginary personal trainer.

@lavendercashewmilklatte Imagine if divergent had more of a friends to enemies to lovers storyline 🖤 #OutlanderChallenge #divergent ♬ Run Boy Run – Woodkid

@ladfitt

where my dauntless girls at

♬ Run Boy Run - Woodkid

With one user writing, “The feminine urge to wear your black Lulu jacket and blast the Divergent soundtrack while you work out and imagine you’re a Dauntless born, training with Four in the pit because a war is coming and you were born for this, to fight and protect.” Maybe this shows such internalised anxieties of the future of humanity and whether or not we will be able to survive its changing structure—it could be we’re reading way too far into it though.

Perhaps, instead, this could be yet another epithet of ‘main character’ catharsis we so seem to need? Imagining ourselves as the physically capable hero—in any dystopian universe—may actually make its way into our reality, developing a much needed internal strength. Another TikToker said, “Preparing myself for either the zombie apocalypse, joining Dauntless, fighting in the Hunger Games, treasure hunting or getting out of the maze. The plot changes every time at the gym.”

https://www.tiktok.com/@brickmaster13/video/7074003684904160558?_t=8QpWMe2KYxp&_r=1
@mikaylawhitman

I literally put a replica of Tris’ bird tattoo on my collar bone for the movie premier I don’t wanna hear NOTHING #fyp #divergent #dauntless #trend

♬ Run Boy Run - Woodkid

It goes even further than just some silly little videos on the internet, with one fitness fanatic actually crafting a free Dauntless inspired workout plan. Becky, who runs a page dedicated to the Divergent series and one of its stars Theo James, noticed the trend surfacing on the app and cleverly created a workout plan inspired by the movie’s military marvels. “As someone on a fitness journey for the past seven months and a fangirl since I was 13, I’ve always wanted to workout with the Dauntless. So I present to you my Dauntless training manual,” she announced. With no less than one million views on the video, it’s safe to say the idea is popular.

Dystopiacore gym routines have gen Z working out like apocalyptic main characters
Dystopiacore gym routines have gen Z working out like apocalyptic main characters

Containing a foreword cautioning those following the programme that she is not a licensed trainer or affiliated with the official brand of Divergent, the five-week training instructions come complete with specially curated Dauntless inspired playlists, video codecs of clips featuring Four inducting you into Dauntless as well as audio files to accompany your fitness sessions.

@detambleave

welcome to dauntless | free pdf link in my bio! #divergent #dauntless #fittok #tobiaseaton #trisprior

♬ Run Boy Run - Woodkid

It might not be everybody’s cup of tea but hey, if it gets you up and running and doesn’t involve the dangers of train hopping—then why not right? I’m saying that because I tried it, all for research of course.

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